Don’t Blame Barbie

barbiePart of the fun of posting every day is that sometimes, I get to post on something I know little about.  I get to learn something useful.  Or not.  Like today, I’m posting on dolls.  Well … one particular doll.  Barbie.  If you’ve been watching the news go by on a semi-news source like Yahoo, you know that the folks at Sports Illustrated and the folks at Mattel have gotten together to give the world something it didn’t know it wanted – a Barbie spread (if you’ll pardon the expression) in the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.  She’ll be appearing in the black and white striped one-piece she debuted in back in 1957.  Now, you’ll please pardon me if I say this is very creepy … and what seems to me to be an inexplicable marketing ploy on the part of both the magazine and the toy manufacturer.   Does Mattel think thatgennivieve little Heather will notice dear old Dad drooling over the swimsuit issue with Barbie on the cover and say, Daddy, can I have a Barbie?  Or does Sports Illustrated hope to kick off one more male fetish that will have Daddy buying the special edition Sports Illustrated Barbie (available only at Target), then ordering the official Genevieve Morton Sports Illustrated bathing suit, Barbie-sized, from   See what I mean?  Creepy.  (Photos courtesy Sports Illustrated)

Then again, Barbie’s always seemed a bit creepy to me, designed more to men’s magazine standards than to the play requirements of little girls, even though Mattel claims that she’s shaped the way she is so the kids can get her clothes on and off more easily.  Like I say.   For years, women’s groups have been complaining that Barbie objectifies women and teaches little girls to be self-conscious about their physical appearance because of Barbie’s unrealistic body features.   Did you know that Barbie’s measurements, extrapolated to real-world scale, would be 5′ 9″ tall, 36-16-33 and that researchers at the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland have concluded, a living Barbie would have an anorexic Body Mass index of around 16.24—and would probably lack the minimum 17% body fat required for a woman to be able to menstruate?  The University Central Hospital must have a shortage of patients to be worrying about whether a living Barbie would be anorexic.  By the way, the average white women aged 36 to 45 in the US actually measures out at 41-34-43. Meanwhile, black women, on average, are 43-37-46, and Hispanic women, 42.5-36-44.  Not exactly Barbie.

Then again, I’m not sure having an impossibly proportioned doll affects a little girl’s body images, no matter what developmental psychologists have to say.cabbage patch  Did Cabbage Patch Kids cause little girls to want over-sized heads and feet, rope-like hair and no lips?  Nope.  Little girls reflect what their mommies mirror.  If mommy’s obsessed with her weight, then little Heather will be, too.  If Mommy dresses in full Hello Kitty preadolecent fashion and starves herself to perfection, isn’t it natural for Heather to see that as her ideal?  And, by the way, if Daddy uses the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue as a coffee table book, what’s a little girl to do?  Don’t blame Barbie. But it’s still creepy as hell that she’s in Sports Illustrated.

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